For the students who decided to opt out of joining the crowd of 3,000 who withstood bitter cold early yesterday morning to obtain tickets to President Barack Obama’s speech at Al Glick Field House today, alternative viewing options will be provided.
Due to the high demand for tickets, the University is making arrangements for the speech to be broadcast via web cast. Viewings of the speech will also be held at the Michigan Union Ballroom, the Ross School of Business and the Duderstadt Center.
Last night, students began filling the Union at about 7:30 p.m. in hopes of being among the first in line to receive a ticket. At 1 a.m., students were asked to leave the building before it officially closed to the public at 2 a.m. The crowd of people — which was estimated to be at 1,000 at the time — relocated to Regents Plaza and extended around the Cube and toward the Fleming Administration Building.
University Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the University decided to make the speech available to everyone through the webcast in an effort to accommodate for the members of the campus community unable to receive a ticket.
“There is just a tremendous interest in this based on the lines that were just zigzagging around all of central campus,” he said. “What we did was see what we could do … (and we decided) there may be some interest in having a venue where students, staff and community members could gather to watch the speech live.”
Fitzgerald said the University is excited to have Obama on campus.
“It is always an honor to have the president of the United States to come to your campus,” he said.
Demand for tickets remains high — with people even selling their tickets for $150 on Craigslist — even though students and community members who received tickets were asked to write their name on the ticket and provide photo identification before they entered the event.
Despite their perseverance, some students who waited in line emerged ticketless.
Kinesiology junior Melanie Lee and her friends decided to avoid the Wednesday night mayhem and arrived at the ticket line at 12:15 p.m yesterday. She said she is disappointed she didn’t get a ticket, but understands other students wanted tickets more than she did.
“I’d love to go. How many chances do you get to see the president speak?” she said. “ … (But) I would have spent the night if I was a die-hard Obama supporter.”
She said while she wishes accommodations would have allowed for more students to attend, she intends to go to a viewing of the webcast.
Public Policy junior Gabe Pachter said he arrived at the Union in the morning and waited an hour before leaving for class. He later returned to wait an additional hour and half, but still didn’t get a ticket.
Pachter said there were several hundred people in front of him upon arrival and at least 150 people when the tickets ran out.
“It was frustrating, but I am not devastated,” he said, “ … I think it would have been great to see the president talk … but I feel like he is going to be in Michigan a lot this year because of the (presidential) race.”
He said he doesn’t plan on watching the webcast because he doesn’t feel that it would be much different from watching any of Obama’s other speeches.
“I feel that it would be … really to cool to see in person how he appeals, but if I watch it on (television), it doesn’t really matter to me (where they are),” he said.